Interview with Marcus Paul, 2SM In The Morning

27 July 2021

Event: Jennifer Westacott interview with Marcus Paul, 2SM In The Morning

Speakers: Marcus Paul host 2SM, Jennifer Westacott, chief executive Business Council of Australia

Date: 27 July 2021

Topics: Covid management


Marcus Paul, host 2SM In The Morning: Jennifer Westacott joins us from the Business Council. Jennifer, good morning to you. How are you?

Jennifer Westacott, chief executive Business Council of Australia: Good morning. Pretty good. And you?

Marcus: Not bad. Lockdowns in Sydney and other major cities are costing $2.8 billion per week, threatening to undo our economic recovery, according to new analysis by the Business Council of Australia.

Jennifer: That's right. Look, I think these things are really hurting us. They're not only just hurting us economically Marcus, they're hurting people's mental health. They're starting to really impact on our social fabric. So we've got to find a way out of this, as you've been saying. There's a couple of things. First thing, is we've got to stabilise the current situation in New South Wales. Government is doing a really good job, best they can. But we've got to get to construction back on track. We've got to, I think nationally, if we're going to have these lockdowns, let's do them smarter. Let's make sure we've got maybe a new definition for the local hotspot definition based on Delta being more contagious. Let's look at the payment systems. So we're saying the New South Wales JobSaver program should be across the country now, should be expanded, shouldn't be capped. The disaster payment system, maybe it needs to go up? Particularly when people have been under lockdown for a couple of weeks. So some of those things have got to be done pretty quickly. We've got to get the vaccine going as hard as we can. And that's about, to your point, we've got to get the advice right. If you're thinking about what do I do? The reality is you are better off getting the AstraZeneca if you're living, particularly in those LGAs that are impacted in Sydney. The risk of you getting COVID are much higher, I would think. I'm not a doctor.

Marcus: No, of course.

Jennifer: But we've got to get some consistent advice Marcus, so that people know what to do.

Marcus: Well this new report, be smarter about managing the virus. The Business Council has found that lockdown losses are most heavily concentrated in New South Wales, $257 million each day. Your recommendations include that Australia take a more targeted approach to fighting coronavirus outbreaks. It's 100 odd days with the current Sydney lockdown. If it was to go on, I beg your pardon for a 100 odd days, a little less than a fortnight as long as Melbourne's 112 day lockdown last year, it could erase the entire year's economic growth and threaten to toss the nation back into a recession.

Jennifer: Yeah. That's why we're saying we've got to find a better way of doing this. So as I said, construction has got to get back on track. We then have got to keep focusing on the local containment. And then as the numbers improve, then start releasing activities in other areas. So Central Coast, Wollongong would be good example in Sydney. If there's no cases there, if the cases continue to be confined to a couple of LGAs, let's find a way out of this. And then we've just got to get vaccinated because the evidence on the vaccine is not just about stopping you from getting sick. The evidence about it now stopping you from transmitting it is actually pretty compelling. So the more people we get vaccinated, the less transmission there'll be. Obviously we'll avoid the tragic loss of life that you were just talking about. But we just got to get smarter at this. Last week, Marcus I was on so many calls, people scrambling to do the public health orders. New South Wales and Victoria have got that kind of right now. Let's just use those across the country and say, "if we're going to go into a lockdown, here's how it works." If everyone knows how to do that. It's not like asking businesses to shut down in three or four hours. It's very hard to do. And let's get a national payment system running so everyone knows well, if we go into a lockdown, then business is going to get this support, individuals are going to get this support, people know what they're entitled to, they know how to make a work. And then as I said, we've got to fast track this vaccine roll out.

Marcus: We're a smart country, surely we can get some sort of universal, national approach to how we're dealing with this virus. Rather than different states, different territories, having their own separate rules on when to lockdown, when to start construction, all the rest of it.

Jennifer: Exactly right. 

Marcus: All the rest of it. All right Jennifer. Yep?

Jennifer: That's that simple message, it's not rocket science. Just get one approach.

Marcus: Absolutely. Good to have you on. I appreciate your time.

Jennifer: Thanks so much. You're welcome. Thank you.

Marcus: There she is. Very busy, Jennifer Westacott from the Business Council of Australia.


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